Lighting is one of the most important features of interior design. Often people spend hours choosing the colour of their paint or their furniture and yet in essence colour is only the way in which light reflects upon an object.
Therefore lighting is actually of the utmost importance. Bad lighting not only detracts from your homes appearance it can also cause a number of health related problems such as poor eyesight and recurring headaches. Good lighting on the other hand can uplift the mood as well as maximize the space and furniture within your home.
Before you start to consider which lighting is important for your home first read through these 8 tips to make the most out of your lighting.
1. Know the different types of lighting
There are four different types of lighting and it is important to know the role of each one before you decide which lighting is most appropriate for each room within your home.
Natural Lighting: This is the light which is present naturally within our homes and environments. It can be either sunlight or moonlight.
Accent Lighting: This is the form of lighting which is used to highlight certain features such as paintings, or parts of rooms within your home. To be effective, accent lighting requires at least three times as much light to be focused on the selected feature as the general lighting surrounding it.
Ambient Lighting: This is an artificial form of light which best attempts to mimic natural light. A central source of ambient light in all rooms is the foundation of a good lighting plan.
Task Lighting: This is the most functional type of lighting and is used to carry out a particular task such as reading or writing.
2. Know the sources of natural light in your home
Depending on the direction from which natural light enters your home it can have a range of characteristics which are important for you to understand in order to choose the best accompanying light fixtures.
North facing: This is a much colder and harsher form of natural light.
East facing: This light is bright first thing in the morning and then characterized by long shadows and an absence of sunshine in the afternoon and evening.
South facing: South facing rooms will have a much warmer natural light all day with the brightest point being midday. South facing rooms are excellent choices for rooms in which you spend the majority of your time for example the kitchen and living rooms.
West facing: These rooms can get quite a lot of glare from the natural sunlight and can be quite warm at the hottest part of the day.
3. Make a lighting plan
Before you begin to buy any lights for your home first draw up a lighting plan. To do so you should draw up a layout plan of your house and room-by-room answer the following questions:
- What is this room primarily used for?
- What are the key features in each room that you wish to accentuate?
- Who uses this room? An older person requires many times more light for reading than a child.
- At what times of day will people use this room?
- What are the sources of natural light in the room and during which parts of the day?
- What are the current drawbacks to each room? This can include the size or ceiling height.
Now mark on your plan the key features of each room including windows, furniture and existing fixtures. Now taking into account the types of fixtures available to you and the different types of lighting you are ready to go shopping with your plan. Do not be afraid to ask questions when buying light fixtures, and use your map to demonstrate to the sales assistant the space for which you are buying light fixtures.
4. Maximize natural light
There are few things as nice as sitting in a sun drenched lounge room on a Sunday morning. Natural light really is central to any good lighting plan. However it is also capable of being manipulated to give your home the best possible natural lighting. Remember that seasonal fluctuations in light must be taken into account when seeking to maximize natural light in your own home.
Here are some quick ways to make the most of the natural light in your home:
- Hang mirrors opposite windows to catch sunlight and reflect it around the room.
- Block out harsh sunlight with roller blinds.
- Use glass paneled inner doors to allow natural light to filter around your home.
- Trim any outside vegetation which may block out sunlight.
- Use pale carpets and furnishings as they will reflect more natural light.
- Layer your lighting.
The best lighting plan uses natural light plus a combination of the three types of artificial light to accentuate the best features of your home and also mask any negative aspects such as smaller rooms. Do not feel restricted to one type of lighting within any room. There are many different types of lighting available today and often the best way to use them is in conjunction with others.
5. Change the dimensions of your room
Clever lighting tricks can completely alter the appearance of any room.
Here's what you can do to make the room appear larger:
- Uplighting can focus light onto the ceiling and walls therefore giving an impression of more space.
- Light up one end of the room as this will pull the eye towards that end making the room seem larger.
- Put lights in each corner of the room.
Make the room appear taller or smaller:
- Vertical light beams give an impression of higher ceilings.
- Use low-hanging pendant lights to add height to a low-ceiling.
- Use numerous different small lamps to make a larger high-ceilinged room seem cozier.
6. Types of lighting decoration
Ambient Light can be accomplished with chandeliers and ceiling light fixtures.
Task Lighting can be achieved using desk lamps. Task lighting should be bright enough to prevent eye strain.
Accent lighting uses fixtures such as backlighting or spotlighting to draw attention to particular features.
7. Energy saving tips
Perhaps the most important energy saving tip for lighting is to ensure lights are turned off when a room is not in use. It is also a good idea to use energy saving light bulbs as they use up to 80% less electricity than normal ones. Remember that many energy saving bulbs are not necessarily compatible with dimmer switches and this is something to enquire about before you make your purchase.